In church planting there are times when money seems to fall out of the sky, but more often church planters and planting teams come up with the money through faithful teaching of Scripture, obedience to its teachings, and good and honorable practices.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: If God is calling you to plant a new church or ministry and that call has been confirmed by faithful followers of Jesus, do not let money—or the lack of it—stop you from planting. When God calls, he makes a way to fulfill that call.
Developing Faithful Stewards
Here are some new church facts:
- We need money to make this ministry work.
- Many people in our target audience are skeptical of church because they are sure as soon as they come we will hit them up for money.
- If we are successful in reaching our target audience, many of them have no concept of biblical stewardship.
- Many of the people in our target audience are already overwhelmed with bills.
- People in our target audience want to know that their financial gifts are being put to good use.
- Developing faithful financial stewards will take time.
Some pastors are hesitant to teach about financial stewardship because they feel people will be turned off. Here is the truth of the matter: As a teacher in a new church start you have the opportunity to help people understand and experience the positive benefits of being a faithful steward and of finding the joy and satisfaction that giving brings. Being a faithful financial steward is part of a mature Christian life. Teaching stewardship should be done not with fear and hesitation but with joy in being able to help people find the abundant life God has for them! The following are some stewardship texts with possible teaching titles:
- Malachi 3:10–“How to Increase Your Cash Flow”
- 2 Corinthians 9:9-11–“How to Make Your Life Really Count”
- 2 Chronicles 24:17-20–“How to Stop Prosperity”
A wealth of biblical passages teach faithful financial stewardship principles. Teach them with joy! Teach the biblical principle and then help people see the common sense response based on the Word of God. It should be your prayer and goal that people respond to your teaching on stewardship by saying to themselves, “It just makes good sense to be a faithful financial steward!”
Beware: some pastors want new Christians to become stewardship giants overnight. That doesn’t happen. Help people start giving at a level they can handle and then help them find ways and reasons to grow in giving. Helping people find answers to the following questions will help them become stewardship giants:
- Why is giving good for God?
- Why is giving good for the kingdom?
- Why is giving good for me?
RCA church planters are asked to raise $25,000 in annual support. Since new churches are not usually capable of supplying enough money to support their ministry, other sources must be developed. Some sources of funding are:
Here are basic guidelines for success in raising financial support from outside donors:
- Donors are gifts from God.
Many godly donors have the spiritual gift of giving. They want to give because that is who they are and how they are wired. They are often waiting for the right person or the right project to come along so they can share their gift of giving.
- Donors give money to people they trust.
It is essential that you build relationships with people who have the gift of giving. Be their friend. Go out for dinner with them. You are not “using” them or “sucking up” by building a relationship with them. Donors are real people who want good friends, and when those friends can provide an opportunity for them to exercise their passion for giving, they are fulfilled as well. Never give a donor a reason to doubt your integrity.
- Donors give to projects they trust.
Projects that can be trusted are ones that have a stated plan and goal. They may not be started yet, but the project can be shared on paper for the donor to see and understand. Donors are hesitant to give to projects that have not been thought through.
- Donors like to support specific things.
- Respect the donor.
Sometimes donors say “yes,” and sometimes they say “no” or “I am not able to help right now.” Each is an acceptable answer and one to be respected. There may be extenuating circumstances that do not allow a gift at this time. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask at a later date. Remember, donors with the gift of giving are led by God to exercise that gift. Respecting the donor is also respecting God’s leading in their lives.
New Ministry Campaign
A New Ministry Campaign lays out a ministry plan that includes mission, values, target audience, costs, and whatever other information you feel is appropriate, then challenges a church to hold a fund drive to raise the money needed to start the new ministry. This money would be used for such things as staff, program, rent, start-up costs, and more. The request can extend over a three-year period of time to give the new ministry sufficient time to get established.
This idea invites area RCA churches to help sponsor the new church start by pledging a given amount of money on an annual basis for a three-year period. When you extend the invitation, write a clear and specific proposal so the sponsoring churches can fully grasp the intended ministry.
This model invites the mother church or supporting church to do the following: Once a month the church gives a can of pop to each family or person who desires to be part of the Pop-A-Day Ministry. They drink the pop, rinse out the can, and make the opening in the can just a little bit larger.
The family then uses the can as a bank and puts the cost of a can of pop (50 cents) into the can five days per week. (It also works to put pocket change in the can at the end of the day.) Money can be placed in the can each evening during mealtime family devotions. Families could offer a prayer for the new church start at the same time.
At the end of the month each family brings their can back to the church, where there is a receptacle to collect the cans. The families pick up a new can of pop and repeat the process each month.
Here are the financial possibilities while having fun:
50 cents per day X five days a week = $2.50 per week
$2.50 per week X 52 weeks = $130 per year (per family)
10 families participating = $1,300 per year
20 families participating = $2,600 per year
30 families participating = $3,900 per year
40 families participating = $5,200 per year
50 families participating = $6,500 per year
Some classes have grant money available for new church starts. When you write a proposal for a classis grant, make sure you are specific and clear in explaining the project. Full information gets better results.
The RCA offers a Church Growth Fund matching grants to new church starts with an approved New Congregation Plan. The application states that you can attach the New Congregation Plan. This is a good idea! Because there is a limited amount of money available to fund these grants, the applications that do the best job of explaining their ministry as well as meeting the criteria have a better chance of being funded.
The RCA Church Multiplication Team is seeking to raise a pool of money from which new churches can receive ministry grants. It somewhat follows the Partner in Mission program. The difference is that donors do not give to support a specific planter, but rather give to the entire ministry.
The cost to birth a new church or ministry will vary according to the ministry. Birthing a new church with a full-time staff person is much different than birthing a second campus ministry using existing staff of the mother church, which in turn is different than starting a house church movement that relies on lay leaders.
If you are the church planter, bring someone alongside you who is good with budgets, finances, and accounting. As the planter, do not allow yourself to be the person who signs or writes checks. Be sure to have a team that handles the finances and has accountability practices in place.
If your core group or launch team does not have someone gifted in the areas of budgets and finances, go to a supporting RCA church and ask them to provide you with such a person. One of the areas in which the devil tries to cause havoc is finances and how they are used. Beware and plan accordingly.
Many new church core groups or launch teams are divided into teams such as the facility team, finance team, fellowship team, worship team, media team, child care team, advertising team, discipleship team, etc. Ask each of the teams to create an itemized list of what they will need to begin their aspect of ministry. Once you have these lists, you have an idea of the initial cost of doing ministry. This will be your beginning budget. Allowing each team to gather this information helps them to be detailed in their planning and also helps them gain stronger ownership of their area of ministry. From these lists you will add items to the New Church Needs List.
The budgets of new churches are tremendously fluid. It is not possible to think of everything that will come up as a ministry begins. Remember that a budget is a proposed amount of money to carry out a project. “Proposed” is an important word because the actual costs may be significantly different.
When you form a finance team, be sure to let them know that their job is not to say “no” to ministry ideas that will fulfill the mission of the new ministry, but to find a way to gain the necessary resources and then to be stewards of those finances.
Without an initial budget you will not know how much support you will need to carry out the ministry. Do your best to project the expenses and income for three to five years, but also realize that you will have a more realistic understanding of actual expenses after the first year of ministry.
An initial proposed budget could include the following (and whatever else you deem necessary):
|Staff ________________________||From mother church __________________|
|Facility _____________________||From sponsoring churches _____________|
|Worship ____________________||From donors _________________________|
|Media ______________________||Projected offerings ____________________|
|Fellowship __________________||Classis grant _________________________|
|Child Care __________________||RCA grant __________________________|
If, when you add up the columns, the income doesn’t equal the expenses, strengthen the financial base before the ministry is launched. There is nothing more disheartening than beginning a ministry and then having to stop it because you are unable to pay the bills.
After you have done all the work of coming up with the money, please remember:
“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).